How to build confidence in yourself as a Muslim

Posted on May 16, 2011

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Rafik Beekun, the Islamicworkplace.com, updated May 22, 2011

Self-confidence plays a critical role in self identity and how we carry ourselves.  It can affect our job performance, our involvement in the community, and even our success/failure in finding a spouse, Insha Allah.

The cardinal principle of self-confidence in Islam is the concept of Tawakkul, one’s absolute confidence and trust in Allah,  believing and knowing that nothing can happen to us or hurt us unless it is by Allah’s Will. This  is attested to in several verses in the Holy Qur’an addressed specifically to the Muslims:

[Then] when you have decided on a course of action, put your trust in Allah:  Allah loves those who put their trust in Him.  If Allah helps you [believers], no one can overcome you.  if he forsakes you, who else can help you?  Believers should put their trust in Allah. [The Qu'ran 3: 159-160]

Again Allah (swt) asserts:

Say: Only what Allah has decreed will happen to us. He is Our Master: let the believers put their trust in Allah. [The Qur'an, Surah 9:51]

Principles to practice from the Seerah of Muhammad (s) and other great Islamic Leaders:

Many characteristics of self confidence that we can develop in ourselves as Muslims come from the Prophet (s).  As Allah the Almighty says in the Holy Qur’an,

Indeed in the Messenger of Allah (Mohammed) you have a good example to follow for him who hopes in (the Meeting with) Allah and the Last Day and remembers Allah much.” (Al-Ahzab, 21).

1. Walk faster.  People with self-confidence walking more quickly instead of lumbering along and dragging their feet.  As reported in Tirmidhi, Abu Huraira (ra) reports:

I did not see anyone more handsome than Rasulullah (saas). It was as if the brightness of the sun had shone from his blessed face. I did not see anyone walk faster than him, as is the earth folded for him. A few moments ago he would be here, and then there. We found it difficult to keep pace when we walked with him and he walked at his normal pace.

2. Stand up straight. At the Battle of Uhud, Prophet Mohammed [pbuh] told the army to stand upright and straight, but he saw that Sawad  Bin Azziya was not upright in standing, so he ordered him to stand upright.    When someone slouches over, he is indicating that he lacks confidence in himself.  When you stand up straight, you exhibit self confidence.

3. Dress well.  Dressing well is not the same thing as looking ostentatious or behaving without humility. The Prophet (s) considered dressing well and looking good as an indicator of the blessings of Allah.  As reported in Tafsir Ibn Kathir, he (s) said,

Allah loves to see the result of His blessing on His creatures.”

Jundub ibn Makith (r.a.) said:

“Whenever a delegation came to meet the Messenger of Allah, he would wear his best clothes and order his leading Companions to do likewise. I saw the Prophet (saas) on the day that the delegation of Kindah came to meet him; he was wearing a Yemeni garment, and Abu Bakr and ‘Umar were dressed similarly.”

4. Compliment others.  Umar al Nadi tells us that he went out once with Umar ibn al Khattab’s son. While walking, he found him saluting all whom he met, whether being old or young. Al Hasan al-Basri also said

“Shaking hands strengthens brotherhood feelings”. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said “Do not ever waste your good deeds, even by meeting your brother with a frowning face.” He said also “Shaking hands removes hatred and exchanging presents enhances love and ends enmity”.

5. Self-monitor.  Be honest with yourself about what you can and cannot do, and what you  know and what you have yet to learn.  It is interesting that Umar (r), one of the most effective Islamic leaders of all times, used to reflect daily what he done, and think about how he could improve.

6. Be humble. Don’t confuse self-confidence with brashness. In the Qur’an, Allah describes Muslims as follows:

And the servants of ((Allah)) Most Gracious are those who walk on the earth in humility, and when the ignorant address them, they say, “Peace!

Humility is also associated with Muhammad’s agreement at Hudaybiyya not to insist on his title as God’s Messenger.  As described by Adil Salahi in his book (1), the negotiated decisions were being written down

The Prophet (s) told ‘Ali (r) to write, “In the name of God, the Merciful, the Beneficent.” Suhayl interrupted: “I do not know this. Write down, ‘In your name, Our Lord’”.  The Prophet told “Ali to write the phrase Suhayl proposed. He continued with his dictation: “These are the terms of the peace agreement negotiated between Muhammad, God’s Messenger and Suhayl ibn ‘Amr.” Again Suhayl interrupted: “Had I accepted that you are God’s messenger, I would not have fought you. You have to write down your name and your father’s name.” The Prophet accepted Suhayl’s point and revised his dictation, telling ‘Ali to write: ‘These are the terms of peace agreed by Muhammad ibn ‘Abdullah and Suhayl ibn ‘Amr.’

In the above anecdote, the Prophet (s), as self confident as he was and as trusting as he was in Allah, did not refuse to accede to Suhayl’s request. The Treaty of Hudaybiyya was not about Muhammad (s) or his ego; it was about the Message of Allah, and he exhibited humility as well as flexibility in negotiating this treaty which turned out be strategically critical in the spread of Islam.

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